Nonprofit returns the favor for longtime disaster response volunteers after Hurricane Laura

WEBXTRA: Nonprofit returns the favor for longtime disaster response volunteers after Hurricane Laura

BON WIER, Texas (KTRE) - Connie and Charles Hughes live in Bon Wier, Texas. They are high school sweethearts and this November they will be celebrating their 58th wedding anniversary. Not only do they care about one another, but they have also given back to their community for years.

Both are a part of their church’s disaster response team, which goes out and provides hot meals, water, showers, and more to those who come in to help in times after natural disasters. Charles is chainsaw trained and Connie has been trained in communications and helping with the shower trailers.

“He has a lot of certifications. I was shower trailer trained and so we did a lot of traveling with our shower trailer, pulling it to places and setting it up for disaster relief people to come in and have a good warm shower after they had worked all day doing something,” Connie said.

Charles has had three strokes and Connie said the most recent one was debilitating to him. They had a one night stay in the hospital the day before the hurricane hit. They were able to evacuate, but they came home to a large tree blocking their driveway, shingles missing from their roof, and other minor issues.

“This group is really sweet because they know we’ve done disaster work and they feel like we can appreciate it, I guess in a way those who have not ever done disaster work can,” Connie said. “So we are eternally grateful because there was no way, with Charles in his condition, that we could have taken care of that humongous tree, those trees that are down in the yard, and other things.”

The group working on their property is All Hands and Hearts, and AmeriCorps recently teamed up with them. And because of Charles' health the group knew they needed to help quickly.

“So with the driveway being blocked, it became a high priority for this organization, to make sure that we gained access to the property and if emergency medical personnel were needed, that they have the ability to get in and provide assistance,” said Andy Hail, a team leader with All Hands and Hearts.

The connection has been equally meaningful to the volunteers.

“We came to find out that these are individuals that, in previous years, have been out doing a lot of what we’re doing in support of disasters, they’ve been all over the country,” Hail said. “Either providing shower trailers, chainsaw work, clearing debris, flood related work. It became very special to us at that moment because that’s the type of work that we do, so we have this connection.”

All Hands and Hearts are stationed at the Hughes' church in Kirbyville and have been receiving some of their services the church is providing like the showers, food, and place to stay.

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